Linky Friday #90: Wars & Rumours of Wars


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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109 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    El2: If inland Cali isn’t red any more then where are the republicans in California? Or is the entire state just different shades of blue with some crabby isolated red wealthy enclaves?

    El3: One of my few solaces in the wretched 2014 election was that at least I and my party saw it coming. There was little of that flat out delusion that happened, say, in 2012. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be actually convinced you were going to get a blowout victory and then end up with a wash out loss.

    A2: I hope they do reactivate their nuclear plants (and improve them with lessons learned), now if Germany would just grow a brain on the subject they could really punch their emissions down AND hopefully prevent the backlash that I fear their current path is assidiously courting.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      To this day, I maintain that there’da been nothing wrong with waking up two years ago and thinking they had a chance. Or thinking they had a good chance, even. It’s the level of dead certainty that they were going to win that I can’t get over.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I’m right there with you. There’s hopefulness, there’s “we gotta remain upbeat to rally the troops” and then there was the right wing in 2012. Sheer delusion.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    EN3 – I’ve been turning motion smoothing off on friends’ and family’s TVs for a while now. Sometimes without telling them.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      You, sir, are an enemy of decency.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Me seriously, I can take it leave it with HD programming. Where it’s a godsend is making SD look really good, especially sports.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        My understanding is that it was intended for, and in fact does improve, sports broadcast.

        The problem is, as the article notes, it is often a default setting, and many people watch very little sports, at least in relation to non-sports programming, which motion smoothing – and this is not hyperbole – completely ruins, visually. And that goes for SD or HD. The more ‘cinematic’ the original product, the more damage MS does to it.

        I mean, it looks BAD, and I am always surprised that people even tolerate it, let alone prefer it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Think of it like closed caption. Distracts from the aesthetic, but for some people improves the experience by making what’s going on easier to grok for some people.

        I don’t keep closed caption on at all times, but do turn on subtitles whenever possible. The characters don’t speak loudly enough, and cinematic aesthetic is often too dark.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        RE: “cinematic aspect is too dark”.

        This is actually another mistake people make with their TV settings, in the opposite direction. On most TVs, the “cinema” setting is there to use IF you have a completely-dark room to watch in; it dims the picture, as though you are in a darkened theater.

        But most people don’t do most of their TV watching in a completely dark room, and of those people, even some of them prefer brighter/more vibrant colors. So if you are NOT a sports watcher, and you think, oh, so I’ll use the ‘cinema’ setting, you may be screwing yourself in a different way. I myself prefer a pretty bright picture.

        But motion smoothing remains the Work of the Devil.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Is motion smoothing the reason watching movies on my friend’s TV makes me queasy? There’s something going on there that feels like it has something to do withe the motion that literally makes me nauseous.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        James, I can’t say if MS makes one literally nauseous, but if you are watching Lawrence of Arabia and it looks like The Young and the Restless, chances are the TV has MS turned on.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Ugh, I hate MS. I hate feeling like I’m watching the show/movie from the set. It’s obnoxious. I want my old television back.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        You can’t turn it off?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        R. loves it. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to get into a huge fight over it any day now and break up over motion smoothing.

        Don’t you see, television manufacturers? You’re killing my relationship!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Though I will say that we were in Best Buy a few weeks ago, and they had a 70″ curved television, and I was completely mesmerized. Now, I think it’s price was well above $4,000, which is at least 20x more than I’ve ever paid for a television (I haven’t actually bought a television since 2001), but for a moment there I was imagining what it would be like to just put the couch 4′ away from that sucker in my living room.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I haven’t really viewed the 4k TVs in person, but my friend claims the jump up in quality makes the SD-HD difference look negligible.

        I must admit that I am a bit confused about the advantages of curving the screen though. Like, I know why you do it in a movie theater, but in the average living room, which is much smaller, it seems like it would actually disadvantage more viewing positions at the sides than it would advantage at the center.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        In order to get the effects of the curved TV (it was 4k), you do have to be pretty centered, and it helps to be close. Close and centered you almost feel like you’re in it. It was an impressive feeling that probably ceases to be impressive sometime around your 12th straight hour of a Breaking Bad marathon, but still.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Right, I can imagine that being centered with it wrapping around you, even starting to approach your peripheral vision, would be pretty immersive. But if I have a 70″ TV, I want to watch it with some friends, and they can’t all sit in my lap. It seems like the side seats would kind of suck.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        If I have a 70″ curved television, my friends can sit on the back couch. 😉Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Curved screens just mean more windows for it to attract light from. One of the biggest things I like about having a flat screen is to more easily avoid which windows are going to reflect off of it.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Wait, do these have a concave sort of curve?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @will-truman – also true. Also, curving it even slightly increases its overall measurement depth, thereby requiring additional placement/mounting considerations (I am kind of fanatical about keeping objects close to walls and trying to maximize room space…it’s my own OCD feng shui. It’s yet another reason the TP hangs on the back of the roll in my bathroom).

        Bottom line, curving the screens seems kind of like a pointless marketing gimmick to me with more drawbacks than advantages.

        ETA: yes, they are concave.

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        But if I have a 70? TV, I want to watch it with some friends, and they can’t all sit in my lap. It seems like the side seats would kind of suck.

        Even on a 70″ screen, getting the benefit of 4K content on a 4K display requires that you sit close to it. Years ago, when HD was just coming out of the labs, I did roadshow demos that included HD content being shown on a 32″ HD display (a CRT, and that sucker was three feet deep and so heavy it took four people to hoist into place). People would stand at “standard” viewing distance for that size screen and remark that it looked pretty good. I always encouraged them to take one big step closer to the screen, at which point you could see the HD details but not resolve individual pixels, and it looked great.

        A 70″ diagonal screen with 4096 pixels per line is about 67 pixels/inch. Optimal viewing distance, in terms of sitting just outside the distance where the typical person could resolve individual pixels, is probably about five feet. Any farther than that and the picture has more detail than you can actually see. At that distance, you’re going to have some off-axis chromatic problems typical of LCD displays on the outer parts of a screen that wide unless the screen is curved. Sit farther away and you’re wasting the resolution. I did a rough calculation the other day. Viewing distance from futon to screen in my family room is about nine feet. A 4K screen for which nine feet is the optimal viewing distance (same optimal as above) would fit on the far wall. An 8K screen for which nine feet is the optimal distance is more than eight feet tall (and I couldn’t get it into the house without opening a hole in an outside wall somewhere).

        OTOH, a 4K display at 120 pixels/inch is 34 inches wide and is getting very close to my long-time dream of having the computer desktop be my physical desktop as well.Report

      • Concerning closed captioning: I use it a lot, too, but not all the time. News programs it goes to slow and for comedy, it usually ruins the timing of jokes.. At any rate my particular TV doesn’t have an easy-to-use shortcut for the feature, so I have to go into the menu each time.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    En1: I’ve never been a huge Petty fan, but I and a bunch of friends from high school went to his Wildflowers tour show in the summer of ’95, and it was a truly great show.

    W1-2, and the anniversary in general: Grass’ Too Far Afield is a fun and slightly crazy (in that Grass way, where there are characters who may be insane or may actually have some sort of fantastical ability) look at the time of reunification, in the context of Germany’s post-war history. I highly recommend it. In fact, now’s an excellent time to reread it, so I think I’ll do that this weekend (wait, this is a 20th century German novel: I mean this weekend, and next weekend, and the two or three weekends after that).Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Both of the anniversaries make me feel old. There are people in their twenties that weren’t alive when there were two Germanies. The taking for granted was reinforced during the substitute teaching.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I was trying to explain Cold War Berlin to my son, how it came about, what led to the building of the wall, etc., and realized it was almost nonsensical, particularly to someone born after the end of the Cold War.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The partitioning of the West always seemed odd to me growing up, because by the time I was around, West Germany was always trustworthy.

        I also thought that Berlin was split because it was along the East/West Germany line until my family actually went to Germany in 1992.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        You think you feel old? I read a piece recently that said kids entering college today regard Vietnam and WWII as being equally distant from today as history. WWII might be history — but I was a college freshman within six weeks of having to decide how to throw away two years of my life when Nixon killed the draft.Report

      • I also thought that Berlin was split because it was along the East/West Germany line until my family actually went to Germany in 1992.

        I remember believing that for a long time. I forget when I learned otherwise, but it was before the wall came down.

        P.S. One of the cliches that for some reason really bothers me is when news articles or pundits or whatever say “when the Berlin wall came tumbling down.” Why the need to so often interject “tumbling”?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I think there’s something about the phrasing that just works really well; it has a good rhythm. Anyway, it’s used a lot.

        Also, newscasters/writers appear to generally be lazy and uncreative, like most other people.

        Also, Sturgeon’s law.Report

      • You’re probably right. (And I had to look up Sturgeon’s Law, by the way.)

        I guess I shouldn’t be so quick to criticize. After all, the odds are pretty good that I’m one of the 90%!Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        You guys never heard of the Berlin Airlift?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It’s from a song:

        Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
        Jericho, Jericho
        Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
        The walls come tumblin’ down,

        Which is a spiritual about eventually escaping slavery, so a pretty obvious and appropriate reference.Report

      • Learning about the airlift was what made me learn where Berlin was. I don’t have a lot of excuses, but I was in high school at the time the wall came “TUMBLING!” down, and as I said, it was probably before then that I had learned where Berlin is/was.

        One thing I’ve never learned, but I could probably Google it in 4 seconds, is whether the wall surrounded all of West Berlin, or just the point where the two Berlins bordered on each other.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d heard of it, could probably recite facts about it, but didn’t understand it.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I had to hear that song twice before realizing that it wasn’t about Joshua sipping a bottle of cherry Coke.Report

      • You think you feel old? I read a piece recently that said kids entering college today regard Vietnam and WWII as being equally distant from today as history. WWII might be history — but I was a college freshman within six weeks of having to decide how to throw away two years of my life when Nixon killed the draft.

        It’s interesting how all that happens. I was born in the early 1970s, so no personal memory of Vietnam. More strange, though, is that even so close (chronologically) to the conflict, I thought of it all as something very historically distant. Perhaps that’s because no close relatives or family friends had served. My own siblings were born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so they thankfully avoided having to worry about the draft. It’s also perhaps because–and I know this is cliche–there was something like a collective amnesia about the conflict. I did have a few teachers who I knew served, but other than occasionally mentioning it, they usually didn’t talk about it.

        In some ways, WWII was more present in my family and in my consciousness than Vietnam was. My parents considered themselves as part of the “World War II” generation, although they were only 12 and 13 when the war ended. My father turned 18 in 1950, but fortunately, as far as I know, wasn’t drafted to go to Korea.* My uncle–my mother’s sister’s husband–served in WWII, and most of their friends had served, and their friends hung out with my parents. Even though they usually didn’t talk about the war much–and when they did, it was usually not very specific–it was a watershed for their lives, so that they had lived their life, the war happened, and then everything changed.

        None of this, I trust, is really too surprising.

        *Strange to say, it wouldn’t be 100% surprising to learn I am wrong. There’s a lot about his life I never knew or knew only vaguely, and I didn’t even come along until he was 41. In retrospect, it seems strange to me that he wouldn’t have been drafted. He was the middle child and had no dependents. He didn’t marry until 1954 and his first child (my eldest brother) wasn’t born until 1958. He was a trained journeyman electrician, a skilled job but not vital to the war effort.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Scott Payne wrote about this five years ago.

      Come to think of it, so did I.

      It’s a story worth remembering and worth retelling.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:


    So this weird concern with voter fraud? It’s a big-government waste of time and money that discourages participation because of a problem that doesn’t exist.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    DeGraw! Not McGraw!

    I find it interesting that all the election stories are right-wing.

    El2: Burt Likko pointed out this problem in an essay from a few years ago. Republicans in California are just as socially conservative as their counterparts in other states and they can’t figure out how to win without alienating their base. Or they run libertarianish candidates in places like San Francisco and can’t figure out that San Franciscans believe in the welfare state. You can’t take away votes from the Democratic Party simply by being against the war on drugs and the NSA. If the rest of your platform is Republican, no one is going for you.

    El3: I don’t think this is exactly private and it makes intuitive sense that late breakers are always going to go against the party on the ropes. The GOP does have a demographic problem but they have a wonderful amount of angry voters that love to show up at midterms. Lots of political writers are wondering if we are just going to swap electorates every two years for a generation or so.

    En3: Is this why movies look like they are kind of fast paced on my TV? Kind of like a speed of 1.3.

    En4: I always had a crush on Kelly.

    W1: I’ve always heard that East Germany attracted a big expat scene because of the huge apartments and it had a lot of hipster type places.

    C1: I am glad the art was saved.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      EN3: most likely. Locate the setting and turn it off, and evaluate.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Also, Berlin in general has historically been fairly cheap and has attracted many artists, though I hear that is starting to change now. Das Gentrification.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Ack. Sorry, man, I was up late last night threading it together.

      El3, it was private insofar as the GOP’s public face was cautious and the Dems tried to be optimistic. The commentators at MSNBC clearly didn’t think that the wave would reach as far as it did.

      En4, who didn’t? Well, I didn’t for very long. Gosh, in those years it seems like everybody wore nail polish. Thiessen is currently on White Collar, Zack is here and there, and Slater hosts some reality TV shows. Seems that three of the six had careers after that show ended.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    A more horrible version of U1, Police in New Orleans frequently ignored calls about rape and child abuse

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    a3: I have no idea where Harner is coming from in his analysis. No one in the US cares whenever Abe has stoked his equivalent of the ‘lost cause’ narrative. That is, no one takes it as a personal affront, just that it pisses of the Koreans and the Chinese, and that makes things more difficult for US interests and relations in those countries. But that itself is only about the niceties of diplomatic intercourse. It merely created less work for the US mission when Abe went this time to the less controversial shrine and sent his minions instead.

    The US tacitly supports Abe’s increased nationalism and more overtly supports a (more formal) restoration of Japanese military power *because* it’s a great counterweight to a rising China, as well as in a generation, a potentially united Korea.

    No one in Okinawa likes US bases in Okinawa, and never has, but very few people outside of Okinawa care that much for Okinawans, considering them back water hicks.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Yeah, it seems like China and Korea are determined to not accept Japan’s apology. Japan has stopped apologizing, without taking its old apologies back. That’s reasonable. A reasonable country like the US can accept that. Unreasonable countries can’t. There’s a difference between Irish people who are upset about battles with England from 400 years ago and Armenians who are still facing denials from Turkey.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      We’re worried about a unified Korea? But that would be unified under the southern government, right? Is there any plausible scenario in which North Korea is allowed to take over the show?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        ‘worried’ is probably too strong a word, but I find the following scenario plausible:

        1) Sometime between 2020 and 2030, the North Korean tyranny machine runs out of steam and the system falls apart.

        2) Reunified Korea is, yes, controlled by the Seoul government (and unlike German precedent, was always the historic capital of the nation, so the seat of government need not move).

        3) Korea though, has a more natural diplomatic affinity for China than for Japan. South Korean democracy now is real enough (and better than anyone in their general longitude except for Japan and Aus/NZ. But it’s still a rather recent thing. The Chinese model *now* bears much resemblance to the way things were run in South Korea from the 50s to the 80s. Backsliding on Korea’s part is totally possible.

        4) Plus, a logical condition for the reunification of Korea would be the end of the UN mission there and thus the withdrawal of the permanent US presence. (something the US has been gradually doing over the last decade anyway).

        5) Meanwhile the grudges between Korea and Japan continue to fester, and grow worse without the salve of each having a long term security alliance with the US.

        6) So the end state is that Korea in 2040 is a country that is not overtly hostile to the US, but is almost overtly hostile to Japan (the way Iran and the Arab gulf states are with each other), and a Korea that is much more in the Chinese orbit than it is in any US one.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    W3: There’s nothing economists do a worse job at than modeling growth. It’s not entirely their fault; growth defies prediction. We can recognize the conditions that encourage growth, such as investment in research and higher-level education, but we can’t forecast innovation. When a social science lacks a good set of predictive variables, it defaults to making no assumptions whatsoever. In this case, that default position meant ignoring the capacity for a flexible economy to innovate better than a command economy. I guess I’m saying that Samuelson et al may have been wearing professional blinders rather than ideological ones.Report

  9. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    [T5] “Imagine a house 3/4 of a mile from the local cool street.”

    And full of paralytically lazy people? I can see that being too far to want to go by wheelchair or on crutches, but if you have two functioning legs, why would you do anything other than walk? I wouldn’t even consider getting on my bike for that unless I’m in a mad rush – if I needed to buy medicine for a sick child, or something…Report

  10. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Hey, tech types! This is off-topic, but I’m hoping to catch someone who’s not a tech-ignoramus like me.

    I have a student paper submitted to BlackBoard that is a gdoc format. This seems to be a Google thing, but I can’t even open it in Google drive. Anyway, looking at the property, the thing is a grand total of 218 byes. Am I nuts, or is that like a single sentence?Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    I hope, @will-truman that you don’t mind if I innovate a new way of using Linky Friday? Because I’ld like to ask for links. I’ve been thinking about how to compare taxable income in terms of time. For instance. My husband and I both work, and the income we earn from that work is taxed as income tax. We also have income from capital gains. This uses little of our time (which is our most precious commodity,) and yet it’s taxed at a much lower rate.

    Linky-goodness courtesy suggests I provide a link to start a conversation, so I’ll start here:

    I understand, from an investment and capital perspective, why it’s good to have low capital gains taxes. But right now, I’m beginning to think, there’s excess capital in too few hands and so it’s not accomplishing the goal of low capital-gains taxes; encouraging growth and investment. We certainly aren’t investing enough in the streets or universities of my state, at any rate.

    A big part of that is the excess burden of hours demanded of the people described in this Mother Jones story. While income tax is progressive in it’s structure, it’s still results much higher taxes much closer to the poverty line; the people who have more than that pay larger percentage in taxes. This seems a structural problem.

    Personally, I think the tax on my time earning income should be lower than the tax on money I have invested, which takes little of my time. So please talk to me like I’m stupid, and give me links to understand why I’m so obviously wrong.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Maybe we should have Bleggy Wednesday or something.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      We certainly aren’t investing enough in the streets or universities of my state, at any rate.

      As I’m sure you know, government spending (federal + state + local) in the US is pretty much at an all-time high by any metric, excepting only a brief spike to insane levels in World War II. As a percentage of GDP, it’s slightly below what it was in 2009 due to the stimulus spending, but to all intents and purposes non-military spending is as high as it’s ever been. If the government isn’t doing enough investment, it’s not because it doesn’t have enough money to spend, but because it’s elected to divert funds from investment to programs aimed at increasing the current consumption of the poor and elderly.

      A big part of that is the excess burden of hours demanded of the people described in this Mother Jones story. While income tax is progressive in it’s structure, it’s still results much higher taxes much closer to the poverty line; the people who have more than that pay larger percentage in taxes.

      The above is unclear.

      Personally, I think the tax on my time earning income should be lower than the tax on money I have invested, which takes little of my time. So please talk to me like I’m stupid, and give me links to understand why I’m so obviously wrong.

      Steven Landsburg explains it here. In short, the tax on wage income is lower than the true rate of tax on investment income, and that’s not even taking into account the corporate income tax. Between those factors, failure to adjust for inflation in assessing investment income, and the compounding effect of taxes on investment income, investment income is taxed much more harshly than wage income.

      David Friedman pointed out that this analysis is complicated somewhat by the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to draw a distinction between investment and labor income. For example, if you own your own business, fix up and flip a house, or actively trade stocks, it’s a bit of both. Landsburg’s analysis is still correct, it’s just that it’s not always easy or possible to distinguish between investment and labor income. This problem can be solved by replacing all income taxes with a consumption tax, which doesn’t distinguish between wage and investment income at all.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        The most important takeaway here is that taxes on wage income reduce the principal available to invest, and thus constitute an implicit tax on all future returns to that principal. You can still ultimately think that we should pile corporate income and capital gains taxes on top of that, but you must understand this in order to be able to have any kind of informed opinion on tax policy.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        If the government isn’t doing enough investment, it’s not because it doesn’t have enough money to spend, but because it’s elected to divert funds from investment to programs aimed at increasing the current consumption of the poor and elderly.

        This is a half-truth. I’m familiar with the pie chart.

        Does your landlord lower your rent or your banker lower your mortgage if your income goes down? I’m fascinated that you qualified this by a % of GDP; as if the number of people receiving Medicare might drop because the economy contracted.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        taxes on wage income reduce the principal available to invest, and thus constitute an implicit tax on all future returns to that principal.
        @brandon-berg that seems, unless I’m missing something, part of what I’m saying. Certainly, if taxes on that the labor dollar are lower, the laborer would become better able to either 1) consume more goods and services and/or 2) invest more.

        So I feel I’m missing something, and would ask you to clarify.

        And I don’t know what I think of corporate income taxes; I’m not convinced that we should be taxing income (particularly if we raise capital gains taxes,) but I do think we should be taxing infrastructure use to help support that infrastructure.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        @zic Measuring it as a percentage of GDP is the generous way to present my argument. If I really wanted to drive my point home, I’d use real dollars per capita, which is the proper measure of how much government spending actually buys, and which almost always increases year over year. Using %GDP dramatically understates the long-term increase in government spending.

        Real per-capita government spending is maybe a few percent off the all-time high in 2009 (again, stimulus), but about 30% higher than anything ever seen before 2000.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Funny to use 2000 to 2009. The period of lowest taxes (particularly for investment earnings). Also saw the most massive increase in government (Dept. of Homeland Security), and I have no idea if your using the books that included two wars after the fact, when they weren’t on the books at the time. There were, in 2007/08, massive job losses for wage earners; not to mention extreme loss of ROI in the money they’d invested in homes.

        I guess it’s some comfort that the stocks in their 401ks have rebounded.

        But I don’t see how that refutes the structural problem. The number of medicare people won’t shrink because the economy contracted. But it would be expected that the number of people turning to the safety net would grow, and so the government’s commitments there increase. Would it be better just to pay people to work and tax that work? If so, I go back to roads and universities. Build them and fill them.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      My thought on possible justification for the lower capital gains tax rate (not that I necessarily think the justification sufficient, but these are the arguments I can think of that at least seem to have some degree of merit)

      – The state has an interest in encouraging people to save their money for retirement, loss of employment, health crises, etc. Having people fall into poverty causes all kinds of problems, and structuring things so more people are likely to have savings could help avoid some of those.

      – The income in many cases has already been taxed once through corporate income tax on the company holding the investment

      – Any investment that is going to do significantly better than just keeping up with inflation, is also going to carry a risk of losing money. So the overall calculation whether to make an investment is going to have the prospective gains offset not only by the taxes due on those gains, but also the possibility of losing the principal.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I agree that your first two points merit consideration, @dragonfrog

        On the third, capital losses are somewhat hedged (if you’ve got enough money). You can hold onto the losses from bad years to help even out the gains from good.

        We invest in funds for similar reasons; they’re like insurance, spreading the risk of losses over all the people in the fund through a diversified investment portfolio where, it’s hoped, everything doesn’t lose at the same time, and some things continue to grow.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        The income in many cases has already been taxed once through corporate income tax on the company holding the investment
        That entire class of argument is dead. We tax money, by and large, when it changes hands.

        The money I’m paid in salary? I pay taxes on it. My company paid taxes on it when they earned it. If I spend it, I pay taxes on it. Whomever uses it for income pays taxes on it.

        Double taxation is, well — it’s a cool sounding argument, but 99.9% of the time it’s special pleading to carve out an exemption so you (generic you) don’t have to pay taxes.

        You can make a case for any penny you get being triple or quadruple taxed by the time it gets to you, because that’s how money and taxes work. Money flows around, and taxes are deducted as it moves.

        Frankly, I say tax gains as income. Since you can deduct losses, and frankly structure it for extensive losses to cover multiple years of gains (I’ve got no real problems with the idea of spreading a 20 million dollar bath one year over the next several of gains, for instance), I don’t see why it should be any different.

        I certainly don’t see why hedge fund managers get to a gains rate on their bonuses. Not a penny of their money is at risk, and that loophole alone costs the Treasury enough to fund NASA a few times over.

        Frankly, I’d just be happy with a truly progressive system. In effect, given sales taxes and FICA, the tax rate is pretty darn flat when it’s all said and done.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        That is the reality as it stands now, but I do find it troubling sometimes.

        If I work for 7-11 and they pay me $100, I’m really only walking out with $85 or less. If I then turn around and purchase 7-11’s products, I’m really only getting $78 worth of stuff after accounting for sales tax (about 8% where I live). This means that without having even left the store, $22… 22% of that money that was exchanged between 7-11 and I belongs to neither of us. And that ignores all the other taxes involved in those transactions.

        I’m not a “Taxes = theft” guy. And I won’t pretend to have a solution. But I do often wonder if there is a better — ideally more transparent way — to do this whole shebang.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Go back to an actual progressive tax system.

        Seriously, a lot of the problem boils down to the fact that we’ve made taxes such a bad word — so divorced from what it actually gets us, that America at large basically ‘hides’ the taxes. Sneaks them into your purchases (sales taxes are horribly regressive) and nickles-and-dimes you around the edges, because simply raising the income tax is verboten.

        Tax gains as income. Tax inheritance as income — with possibly a small carve-out (frankly most inheritances aren’t big enough to make it worth the inheritees or the governments’ time to tax it. Tax income as, you know, incomes. Find some way to actually tax corporations at a sane rate (none of this negative tax rates for multi-billion dollar corps. You do business here? You pay taxes here. Yes, it’s hard. But so is preventing crime. We’re not throwing our hands up and abolishing the police).

        That’s what causes the problem. Government needs money to function, and people get REALLY unhappy when government stops functioning (and rarely notices it when it does).

        I mean, good lord — we can’t even fix the gas tax as our roads are falling to pieces. Instead we’re talking about complex systems to track mileage and special hybrid car taxes instead of, you know, just adjusting the current tax to it’s value had it been inflation adjusted for the last two decades. Because it’s easier to pass a tax on some small group, rather than make everyone pay an extra 5 cents at the pump.Report

  12. Avatar veronica d says:

    T2 — All I know is, next time I’m in SF, I expect Mike to drive me to work.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      All I know is I’m ecstatic to see a comment from you. I was afraid you’d departed.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        T’anks 🙂

        But seriously, Mike, this is going to happen.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        That was just my joke, because Mike actually never drives over 35 miles an hour–but always in the left lane.

        No, wait, I have no idea how he drives. I just wanted to pick on one of our Bay Area folks, and I don’t think Saul has a car, and I’m not sure who else among our community lives around there.

        But if Mike actually takes you for a ride like that, you totally have to write a guest post about it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I will drive Veronica to work exactly like that.

        The next time the Bay Bridge is that empty at commute time.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’ll get right to work on that.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Perhaps we can arrange some kind of diversion.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      That was most impressive. Not just for the driving or the Fiesta’s performance or the fact that only at one point could you tell that there had been more than one take or the really cool shot of the car catching air up on top of the hills..

      But mainly for the fact that they got so much of the city’s streets blocked off for it, including the inbound Bay Bridge. That must have cost an absolute fortune in permits.Report

  13. Avatar Will Truman says:

    C4 – Not surprisingly, I don’t find this to be a compelling argument against micro-apartments. Or, particularly, having much to do with the micro-apartment phenomenon. Assuming I read it right (which I may not have, seeing as how I read it shortly before I got Saul’s name wrong on the post), it’s mostly a case of downscale apartments going upscale, which makes it a gentrification thing.

    Or, even more conveniently for me, a “still not enough units” and an argument to support building microapartments elsewhere so that the people moving in can have a place that doesn’t require ousting the people being ousted here.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      I agree. And speaking of micro apartments, I meant to email you this this link about a brilliantly designed 86 sq. ft. apartment in Paris. Not that I could quite see myself living there, but the ingenuity of how to make a small space livable is inspiring.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


      My big beef against microapartments is not their size but that they seem to be more about attracting young, college educated people into cities as opposed to coming up with solutions for working to middle class people, families or the really poor.

      So I pushback at microapartments because they are being marketed as helping the affordability crisis. Not because of their size.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Building microapartments in other places might have made it less worthwhile for the developers in the article to convert their SRO’s into microapartments.

        In any event, it all goes back to gentrification, which is a pretty sticky wicket.Report

  14. Avatar Kim says:

    So, um, the unnecessary bankruptcy saved Detroit?
    Nahh… couldn’t be.Report

  15. Avatar Kim says:

    Pgh was supposed to get a submarine for a year, but now the water’s too low, and so they pretty much have it permanently.Report

  16. Avatar Kim says:

    MRS the solar roadways thing is … smarter than you think.
    It’s just… not the thing you think it is.Report

  17. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    A solar pike path? That sounds rather brutal & medieval.Report

  18. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Law Schools have seen a large drop in applications since in the past few years. Many have unsurprisingly responded by lowering admissions requirements. This has unsurprisingly led to a noticeable drop in the MBE scores of 2014. Though no one except Above the Law is coming out and attributing the drop to students with lower LSAT scores:

  19. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    En5: Going back and watching old episodes of the Twilight Zone, the thing that strikes me is how simple they are compared to modern shows. You can sum up the plot of just about every episode in a couple of sentences, and everything else is just there to pad it out.

    Nowadays, it’s standard for even sitcoms to have two or more concurrent plot threads. I wonder what the first show to do that regularly was.Report

  20. Avatar Teckelvik says:

    H2 goes to an article about the way outer space smells.Report

  21. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    U3 – This problem, I believe, is another that can be laid at the feet of the Supreme Court. They are the ones who decided that property can be put on trial even though the owner is not. (More of Scalia’s New Police Professionalism, IIRC).

    T4 – Someday the airlines & the FAA will all upgrade their software to modern algorithms and we will have all new stuff to complain about.Report